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February 22, 2011

South East firms called on to apply for research grants

Small businesses with high-growth potential in the South East can compete for 55 worth £4,000 or £8,000 to use for research and development, by applying to the Innovation Voucher Scheme by 9 March 2011.

The scheme, run by the South East of England Development Agency (SEEDA) and the South East Health Technologies Alliance (SEHTA), aims to help the region’s small firms access the expertise and facilities of local universities and public research organisations.

Firms must approach a university or public research organisation before applying for the scheme, to ensure that the work they are proposing is viable.

Small businesses in any sector (except agriculture or fishery) can apply for the business grants, although priority will be given to firms in sectors including:

  • advanced engineering and marine
  • aerospace and defence
  • environment and energy
  • financial and professional services
  • ICT, software and digital media
  • pharmaceuticals, life sciences and healthcare.

Two types of business grants are available – a fully-funded voucher for the value of £4,000 excluding VAT, and a voucher for £8,000 excluding VAT which must be matched with £4,000 from the business to create a project worth £12,000. Businesses are responsible for paying the VAT.

SEHTA spokeswoman, Haley Dwyer, said that the main benefit of the scheme is the access to knowledge and expertise the successful firms will get.

“The grants are aimed at innovative firms that have an idea for how to take their business forward but perhaps can’t afford to develop it or don’t have the expertise,” she said.